Publicity Predicament #9 – How Can I Take Advantage of Breaking News?

If a news story breaks that relates to the services or products you sell, become alert, find an interesting way to make the connection, and take action as soon as possible. This is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to earn media coverage that captures attention in the marketplace.

The news you use as a hook might be front-page stuff or much more obscure. It could be national, international or local.

Let’s say you’re a plumber and you learn that the price of copper, which has been sky-high for the last year, suddenly dropped. The connection is that homeowners will soon have an opportunity to undertake kitchen or bath renovations for less because the price of copper pipes will be lower.

Or an earthquake occurs halfway around the world, killing thousands, in a city thought to have a low risk of quakes. You own an insurance company. You now have an opening to offer advice on whether or not those living in your locale should have earthquake coverage.

Or a celebrity’s young daughter gets kidnapped, ransomed and returned home unharmed. Your firm manufactures bracelets that also secretly function as location devices. Had the daughter been wearing one of your bracelets, the police would have been able to find her within an hour. Social

Got the idea?

In the first two of these situations, the business seeking publicity serves local customers only, so they should direct their publicity tie-in efforts to local newspapers, TV and radio. In the third situation, the company should aim at national publicity first, since their customers live anywhere.

The simplest way to jump into action with your breaking news connection is to call a media outlet you have reason to believe would consider your story relevant and track down the reporter or editor who handles the subject matter. This is much easier than it sounds. You see, tips are the lifeblood of news organizations, so that unlike companies that shield employees from the public, they have to have a system of channeling story suggestions to the proper person.

All you have to do is call the main telephone number of the media outlet, ask for the “news desk” and then ask who you should contact about a real estate (for our first example), business (for the second) or child safety (for the third) story. When you reach the person covering your topic, explain your news connection in four sentences or less. If you’re leaving a voice mail message, end with your call-back number. If you’re talking to someone live, finish your pitch, shut up and wait for their response.

You can make this sort of pitch by email also, if you have a reliable email address for a reporter, tip line or topical editor. Keep it brief and to the point and include a phone number as well as your email address for a reply.

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